Job No. 1 for CCOs is crisis preparedness: Weber study

NEW YORK: Crisis management preparedness is the biggest success factor for global CCOs, according to a study from Weber Shandwick and executive search firm Spencer Stuart.

NEW YORK: Crisis management preparedness is the biggest success factor for global CCOs, according to a study from Weber Shandwick and executive search firm Spencer Stuart.

Sixty-five percent of CCOs named crisis management as the most important skill needed for their jobs, nearly double the number of respondents who said so when the survey debuted in 2007. About 70% of communications leaders reported facing a threat to corporate reputation in the past two years.

The increased attention to crisis preparedness can be attributed to a faster news cycle and widespread anti-business sentiment, said Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief reputation strategist at Weber. Additionally, half of CCOs said their jobs were affected by the reputation of their industry as a whole, rather than just that of their company or brand.

“There's been a ramp-up in terms of minute-by-minute crises and corporate issues,” said Gaines-Ross. “Companies are being battered every which way they turn.”

The fourth annual Rising CCO study surveyed 142 chief communicators from companies in North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America. Most respondents work for global Fortune 500 companies.

The survey also found that nearly three-quarters (74%) of CEOs help with crisis resolution, and it takes approximately 15 months to move past a damaging issue.

Most CCOs said social media was more likely to resolve a crisis rather than worsen one, with only 7% attributing the roots of crises to social media.

“Many crises rise up after business activities, not necessarily just from social media,” Gaines-Ross added. “It's a reminder that companies have to watch out not just for what's being said on the Internet, but also ensure that behavior and conduct meets the highest standard.”

The Arthur W. Page Society released a new model for corporate communicators in March, encouraging CCOs to spur behavior and advocacy from consumers via social media. The framework recommends building an overarching corporate character as an outline for behavior and communication with stakeholders.

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